Toxic Shock

Buford Youthward

The seductive toxic shock is what we live for. Transport mechanisms are like crutches. Like masks. We become comfortable with our disguises. Learn to use them, slip in, slip out. The back alley poets steer clear of convergence. Too cool for school, they are preoccupied with maintaining the current front. The hip are confronted with the knowledge that there is an art and a science to juggling roles. The hero can never be stoic without knowing what victimization is. Graffiti binds certain minds sometimes. What they don't tell you about is the point of no return.

The graffiti jones drives memory, secures locations, seizes space, the complete mental act of processing a criminal plan. The pre-meditation happens all the time. While your eyes are closed, outlines dance across the inside of your lids. Colors blend in hypnotic visions. This is the dance of graffiti. The lure of the vanities.

Riding the subway jettisoning the tunnel from the city's underbelly to ascend turbulently across the rails at rooftop level was a sensation for me. Capping it off was the view of rooftop pieces exploding beyond the plexiglass windows. To contribute, to participate in that hip city decoration, is nothing less than Ulyssian. No stab at immortality -- just the opposite -- a stab at the temporal.

Riding trains from terminal to terminal is an undergraduate course in graffiti tradition. Peering from the elevated stations, we find ways to line our pockets and spread our name. It's a city game. The Hustler's Olympics. The science of the get-over. Capitalism at its worst. Or at its best. Again, it depends on your point of view.

To play this way you need to know how it is to lose. To be broken. To find your fixes. I don't want to see the sights, hear the sounds from the winners. How desperate can their vision be? What introspective cry have they been denied? The celebrated are often celibate. Their passion for luxury is as noble as fighting for peace.

So I whine on and dine on shamburger helper, canned soups, fortune cookie philosophies and pre-sweetened cereal box ingredients. A meal for the masses, a convergence of matter and mind, the seductive toxic shock that I live for.

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